This morning was Not A Good Morning at our house. I largely blame the existence of pants. I sat on the couch contemplating what the heck I was going to pack for lunch. Zoey stood on the couch next to me attempting to get dressed under a fleece blanket. She looked like a little blue ghosty with balance issues. Every so often I pulled an article of clothing out from underneath me (I had been sitting on them to keep them warm) and hand it to her.
Panties to catch the drips? Check!
Short-sleeved shirt for inside play? Check!
Long sleeve shirt for the playground? Check!
From what I could piece together between the tortured screaming and tears of rage, the clothing item I handed her was a) not tights and b) not leggings. They were . . . pants. Clearly, I had crossed The Line. You know, the one that separates the good parents from the bad, mean, awful parents. Yeah, that one.
Zoey steadfastly refused to put on any pair of pants. Not the sparkly ones. Not the stripey ones. Not the incredibly ugly yellow ones. She stomped around the house in a pair of polka-dot panties with her skinny little legs covered in goose bumps yelling, “MommEEEEEE! I’m COLD!” Every so often she threw herself on a piece of furniture in despair, flung her elbow over her eyes, and stuttered, “It’s s-s-sooooo c-c-cold.”
I tried my best to ignore the drama. I left the room. She followed. I pretended to be busy doing busy, important, adult work. She threw herself on the floor in front of me. I pretended I had to go to the bathroom. She leaned against the closed door muttering, “Sooooo coooold. So veeery cold.”
Then I cracked. “Maybe you’re cold BECAUSE YOU DON’T HAVE ON ANY PANTS!” (The all caps are there for a reason.) I mean, seriously. When will she start internalizing some of these lessons. If you’re hungry, eat something. If you’re tired, go to sleep. If your legs are cold, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PUT PANTS ON.
After I felt like a wretched parent for yelling at Zoey about pants, after she went off to school, after I cried huddled under the blue fleece blanket, after I baked cookies “for Zoey” and then ate five of them, I called a friend on the phone. She also had a Not Good Morning at her house. She asked me, “So when does it get easier?” There was a horrified silence from both of us as we realized it doesn’t. It just gets different. Today it was pants. Tomorrow it could be oatmeal or socks or the cat looking at her funny.
And although we had a bad morning and the possibility of a hard, tired afternoon is looming, I’m still looking forward to those unguarded 15 minutes when we first get home. The golden minutes when she leans her head against my shoulder and tells me about her day. The minutes when she giggles into my neck and lets me hug her close. The minutes when I don’t have to fold laundry or start dinner and I can just breath her in. Tomorrow will be better. Or it won’t. What matters is that we love each other and ourselves enough to keep trying.